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Adapting during Covid-19 - SCOOP The Sustainable Cooperative

Skills Jersey speak to Kaspar and India from SCOOP The Sustainable Cooperative on how their business has adapted during the challenging times of the Coronavirus pandemic.

What were your initial thoughts to Covid-19 regarding your business?

At the beginning of March we realised that Covid-19 would have a significant and lasting impact on the running of our business and that we would need to adapt to remain viable. We anticipated panic buying and were concerned about supply lines of essential items and fresh produce and started working with our suppliers to prepare for the challenges ahead, rationing certain items to ensure that as many people as possible had access to everything they needed.

We recognized and respected increased levels of anxiety and knew that communication with our customers would be vital, to demonstrate our willingness to accommodate and respond to a range of needs and concerns. We were particularly concerned about our more vulnerable customers. We were also confident that our services would be needed and appreciated. Our first public message on this was met with a positive response.

How did you adapt and change your business routine?

Each decision we made was underpinned by three concerns, the safety of our customers and staff, the needs of the most vulnerable in our community and a commitment to secure the livelihoods of the farmers we support. We needed to adapt quickly and regularly, from introducing hand washing facilities for customers, to limiting the numbers in the shop. Decisions were influenced by customers, volunteers, staff members and the management team.

Within 2 weeks of developing a COVID policy document in early March we had closed the shop and began operating as a delivery and collection service, selling over 450 different products to 360 households, with an emphasis on local producers and growers. It wasn’t always a smooth transition and it was (and is) a lot of extra work. We have used free and low cost digital systems and made the change about people and communication. We didn’t want to lose our sense of community.

We are indebted to a team of volunteers, who have stepped in to help us manage the packing and delivery service. We are lucky to have a very dynamic, socially driven workforce that can grow and shrink in a time of need. We are also fortunate to be in a position to continue operating as a business and employing the staff who work with us.

What positive changes do you think you will take from this experience?

We are a business that has the wellbeing of the environment and our community at heart. We care deeply for localism and resilience, not only in response to COVID, but to all the potential challenges our food supply chain faces in the years to come. We have been encouraged by the way people have supported local initiatives and rallied to help those most in need. We are also encouraged by a ‘re-skilling’ of home cooking practices and the surge in home growing.

Consumption and life has slowed down for many people and that may prove useful in the future. We also hope that this experience will result in more support and appreciation for the organic growers we work with, who have been supplying the local market with an abundance of organic produce for many years, using framing practices that have the long term interests of our island at heart. We urge decision makers to be brave and be influenced by progressive and dynamic approaches to resilience.

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